THE CONTEXT: On National Teachers’ Day 2022, the Prime Minister announced a new initiative – PM SHRI Schools (PM ScHools for Rising India). This article presents the complete picture of the scheme and why such schools are needed to further the goals envisioned under the National Education Policy.
ABOUT PM SHRI SCHEME
PM ScHools for Rising India is a new scheme for the development of more than 14500 schools across the country by strengthening selected existing schools being managed by Central Government/ State/ UT Government/ local bodies. These schools will act as exemplary schools showcasing all components of the National Education Policy 2020 (NEP) and offering mentorship to other schools in their vicinity. This Scheme will deliver quality teaching for the cognitive development of students and will strive to create and nurture holistic and well-rounded individuals equipped with key skills required for the 21st century.
KEY FEATURES OF PM SHRI SCHOOLS
- PM SHRI Schools will provide leadership to other schools in their respective regions by providing mentorship.
- The PM SHRI Schools will be developed as Green Schools, incorporating environment-friendly aspects like solar panels and LED lights, nutrition gardens with natural farming, waste management, plastic-free, water conservation and harvesting, the study of traditions/practices related to protection of the environment, climate change related hackathon and awareness generation to adopt a sustainable lifestyle.
- The pedagogy adopted in these schools will be more experiential, holistic, integrated, play/toy-based (particularly in the foundational years), inquiry-driven, discovery-oriented, learner-centric, discussion-based, flexible and enjoyable.
- The focus will be on the learning outcomes of every child in every grade. Assessment at all levels will be based on conceptual understanding and application of knowledge to real-life situations and will be competency-based.
- Linkage with Sector Skill Councils and local industry for enhancing employability and providing better employment opportunities will be explored.
- A School Quality Assessment Framework (SQAF) is being developed, specifying the key performance indicators to measure outcomes. Quality evaluation of these schools at regular intervals will be undertaken to ensure the desired standards.
MAJOR INTERVENTIONS IN THE PM SHRI SCHOOLS
QUALITY AND INNOVATION
- Quality and Innovation through Learning Enhancement Programme, Holistic Progress Card, Innovative Pedagogies, Bagless days, Internships with Local artisans, Capacity building etc.
- Beneficiary-oriented entitlements under RTE Act. 100% of PM SHRI Schools will receive Science and Math Kits.
ANNUAL SCHOOL GRANTS
- Annual School Grants (Composite School grants, Library grants, Sports grants)
FOUNDATIONAL LITERACY AND NUMERACY
- Early Childhood Care and Education, including Bal Vatika and Foundational Literacy and Numeracy
EQUITY AND INCLUSION
- Equity and Inclusion, including the provision of safe and appropriate infrastructure for girls and Children with Special Needs (CWSN).
- Encouraging flexibility in the choice of subjects offered to students.
MEDIUM OF INSTRUCTION
- Encouraging mother tongue/local languages as a medium of instruction using technological interventions to help bridge language barriers.
- 100% of the PM SHRI Schools will be covered under Information and Communication Technology (ICT), smart classrooms and digital initiatives.
- Vocational interventions & Enhancing internship/entrepreneurship opportunities, especially with local industry.
- A saturation approach will be adopted to develop these schools with all modern facilities. Science labs, Library, ICT facilities, Vocational labs etc. will be provided to all the schools.
Ø The scheme also envisages convergence with existing schemes /Panchayati Raj Institutions/ Urban Local Bodies and community participation for infrastructure upgradation of the school and creation of facilities.
METHODOLOGY FOR SELECTING PM SHRI SCHOOLS
- Selection of PM SHRI schools will be done through Challenge Mode, wherein Schools compete for support to become exemplary schools. Schools would be required to self-apply on the online portal.
- A maximum of two schools (one Elementary & one Secondary/Senior Secondary) would be selected per block/ULB with an upper limit of the number of total schools across India.
- Geo-tagging of schools for the selection and monitoring of PM SHRI schools. The services of
- Bhaskaracharya National Institute for Space Applications and Geo-informatics (BISAG-N) will be taken for geo-tagging and other related tasks. An Expert committee would be constituted for the final selection of schools.
IMPLEMENTATION STRATEGY OF PM SHRI SCHOOLS
- PM SHRI Schools would be implemented through the existing administrative structure available for Samagra Shiksha, KVS & NVS. The other autonomous bodies would be involved on a specific project basis as required.
- These schools shall be monitored vigorously to assess progress and understand the challenges faced in implementing the National Education Policy 2020.
PROBLEMS ASSOCIATED WITH THE CURRENT EDUCATION SYSTEM – NEED FOR PM SHRI SCHOOLS
- According to UNESCO’s State of the Education report for India 2021, there are 11.16 lakh teaching positions that are vacant in schools. It clearly shows that there is a shortage of teachers in schools.
- Besides this, teachers are burdened with a lot of non-academic workloads, ultimately resulting in a divergence of their focus from teaching the students.
- According to a study done by the National Institute of Education Planning and Administration (NIEPA), teachers devote only around 19% of their time to teaching, while the rest of their time is spent on non-teaching administrative work.
ALLOTMENT OF FUNDS
- Funds are provided to the schools by the Central Government to the State Government. Every National Education Policy since 1968 has said that India needs to spend 6% of its gross domestic product (GDP) on education.
- The 2019-20 Economic Survey showed that in 2019-20, 52 years since that recommendation, India spent only 3.1% of its GDP on education.
- The requirements of the schools, like libraries, labs, and other infrastructural facilities, cannot be managed appropriately by the schools due to the lack of availability of money.
LACK OF INFRASTRUCTURE
- Lack of infrastructural facilities like poor hygiene, lack of toilets, drinking water facilities, electricity, playground, etc., is one of the major loopholes in the education sector.
OLD CURRICULUM OF STUDY AND LACK OF PRACTICAL KNOWLEDGE
- The old education system in India was mainly based on bookish learning, but nowadays, with the use of the internet and experiential learning methods, a lot has changed.
- The old curriculum of education mainly focuses on cramming up theories and concepts. No exposure is being provided to the students in the practical domain.
- Parents and teachers also focus on guiding the students to obtain high marks in the subjects rather than on practical knowledge and usability of the concepts. As a result, education has become a rat race.
HOW CAN PM SHRI SCHOOLS BE USEFUL?
- PM SHRI schools can become a medium to bring change envisaged by the New Education Policy (NEP). These schools will also need to find the solution to learning losses caused due to pandemic and ensure fruitful outcomes that can help the nation’s economy.
- As every region will have PM SHRI schools that will mentor other schools in their areas, it will also have a range of learning experiences, and good infrastructure, among others. These schools will include a variety of pedagogies and assessment systems along with vocational education, which will help in building the capabilities of young minds and make them future-ready.
- The schools will be energy-efficient with natural farming patches, equipped with rainwater harvesting systems and will enable the study of traditional environment-friendly practices.
- Career guidance and mentoring will be provided by the alumni, and parents will also be trained to become home mentors, which will ensure the holistic development of the child.
THE CONCLUSION: Education is a tool that empowers individuals in all aspects of their life. It widens his knowledge, skills, techniques, and his vision of the world. It also helps in inculcating moral and ethical values. Apart from all this, employment opportunities increase to a great extent along with higher income prospects. There is no doubt that the development of a country depends on the quality of its educational system. Adequate investment in the educational domain will help in increasing the efficiency and productivity of the manpower. PM SHRI Scheme is a great step in the right direction to improve the quality of education and learning outcomes. However, for the PM SHRI schools to succeed, a teacher training programme must be in place to train the educators in the pedagogical practices proposed by the NEP.
Mains Practice Questions:
- ‘The schools will need to find ways to reverse the learning losses and ensure life outcomes that have a positive bearing on the nation’s economy.’ Discuss the role of the PM SHRI Scheme in light of the given statement.
- Transformation in the pedagogy sector by personalised learning through technology is today’s reality. Discuss how the digital initiatives under the PM SHRI Scheme will help in the holistic development of the students.